10/04/2012 2:56PM

Tuley: Oakland A's had no believers at 100-1 odds in midseason


Baseball fever. Have you caught it?

The pro sports leagues often make some ill-advised decisions (locking out referees, fighting the inevitable national legalization of sports betting, etc.), but I have to say MLB hit a home run for the second straight year ending the season on a Wednesday. As a football-loving nation, having the schedule end on a Sunday from 1991 through 2010 moved the sport to the backburner on a day when it should have leading SportsCenter and topping the next morning’s headlines. Just like last year with those fantastic finishes, it was great to just focus on baseball on Wednesday.

DRF SPORTS: Latest betting lines, StatFox matchups, and handicapping news for every game

Even with Miguel Cabrera completing the first Triple Crown since the first full baseball season that I was alive for (1967), the biggest story was the Oakland A’s rallying to win the American League West title over the Texas Rangers. And being here in Vegas, we’re glad to report there were many gambling angles to their feat, almost the least of which is that the A’s were a slight home favorite in the finale.

Before the season, the over/under season win total for the Rangers was 91.5, while the A’s were a full 20 games lower at 71.5. The two-time defending AL champion Rangers were supposed to be challenged by the Angels, who had acquired Albert Pujols in the off-season. Both those teams were around even money to win the AL West, with the A’s at 25-1 at the LVH SuperBook. By the All Star break, the Rangers had a four-game lead over the Angels with the A’s nine games back with a mediocre record of 43-43. The LVH re-posted its divisional odds and had the Rangers as a prohibitive 1-5 favorite with the A’s dismissed at 100-1. In fact, LVH sports book supervisor Jeff Sherman said not a single ticket was written on the A’s at that price.

The Rangers were not only the favorite to win their division but for most of the summer they were the World Series favorite around odds of 9-2. At some points, the Yankees (who are always going to get support in the futures from their large and loyal fan base) would get hot and be lowered to co-favoritism with the Rangers. Even as their seemingly insurmountable divisional lead started to slip away the last week, the Rangers were still never raised above 5-1.

After the A’s sweep of their three-game series this Monday through Wednesday, the Rangers were raised to 8-1 after they lost the division and were forced to play in Friday night’s one-game wild-card game against the Baltimore Orioles (a Cinderella story in themselves that has been overshadowed by the A’s miracle: the Orioles, who won 93 games, had an over/under season win total of just 69.5 and just missed cashing at odds of 80-1 to win the AL East).

Disclaimer: As of Thursday morning, the LVH had the Yankees and Nationals as the 5-1 co-favorites to win the World Series with the Reds at 11-2, the Tigers at 6-1, the Bay Area teams (A’s and Giants) at 7-1, and then the Rangers at 8-1. If the Rangers don’t go one-and-done on Friday and can avoid a historic fall from grace, expect them to be right back there among the favorites, even though they will have lost home-field advantage.

There is sure to be much debate this weekend about what constitutes home-field advantage in the divisional playoffs as the teams with the better seed are actually playing the first two games on the road and then getting games 3 through 5 at home (if necessary). Conceivably, the lesser seed could sweep two games at home and just have to win Game 3 on the road and will have had the home-field advantage (add this to the list of ill-advised decisions back in paragraph 2).

All that aside, it should be an exciting baseball postseason with just about any team capable of getting hot at the right time like we saw with the Cardinals last year.

Back to the NFL betting board

Two weeks ago, I said my goal was to get back to .500 and I went 2-0 to do just that. Last week, I said my goal was to get back to profitability and I went 2-1 to do just that. In case I have a guardian genie granting my every wish, I guess I should set my goals higher! My goal is to go 3-0 this week with this trio:

Eagles +3.5 vs. Steelers

The Eagles are proving adept at winning close games, and this should be another close one. Getting more than a field goal as insurance seems like a bargain.

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Titans +5.5 vs. Vikings

I was on the Vikings two weeks ago before most people got on the bandwagon and then they beat the Lions last week, but those were as underdogs. Now, back in the role of favorite, let’s not forget they failed to cover in their Week 1 win over the Jaguars and lost to the Colts the other time they were favored. If the Titans play like they did two weeks ago in their 44-41 OT win over the Lions, they will be in this game throughout, and there’s no reason they can’t pull off the upset here, too (plus, I think they’re better right now with Matt Hasselbeck at QB).

PLAY: Titans for 1 unit.

Chargers +3.5 vs. Saints

I’m usually not one to be swayed by won-lost record – especially since I’m usually the one to be taking the team with more losses – but here we have the Chargers at 3-1 against the 0-4 Saints, and we’re getting more than a field goal? I know the Saints aren’t as bad as their record and they should be getting something for home-field advantage, but this is too good to pass up.

PLAY: Chargers for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL overall: 6-5 for a net profit of 0.5 units.